Edges of the City

Henry Hudson Parkway

The Henry Hudson Parkway extends 11.1-miles from West 72nd Street in Manhattan, across the Henry Hudson Bridge over the Harlem River, to the Bronx-Westchester border.

The parkway itself (between 72nd St. and 129th Street) is a NYC Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Henry Hudson Parkway by definition involves both the State and the local authority

Designer & Constructor: Robert Moses

Length: 11.1 miles

Style: Parkway

Materials: Stone-Veneer, Concrete, wooden rails, iron fencing


  • The New York City Improvement Commission noted that parkways should connect new riverfront parks being built in both the Bronx and in Brooklyn.


  • Construction Began


  • Parkway Opened


  • The National Park Service stated that the parkway (1) was designated for noncommercial, recreational use; (2) sought to avoid unsightly buildings and other roadside developments that mar the ordinary highway; (3) was built within a much wider right-of-way to provide an insulating strip of park land between the roadway and the abutting private property; (4) eliminated frontage and access rights and preserved the natural scenic values; (5) preferably took a new location, bypassing built-up communities and avoiding congestion; (6) aimed to make accessible the best scenery in the country it traversed, hence the shortest or most direct route was not necessarily a primary consideration; (7) eliminated major grade crossings; and (8) had entrance and exit points space at distant intervals to reduce interruptions to the main traffic stream.


  • Article XII-B of the Highway Law was established to create a statewide system for the use of State and Federal funds in the construction and modernization of State arterial highways.

(Additional info here: http://www.henryhudsonparkway.org/hhp/facts2.htm#_edn4)


Parks sued the MTA’s contractor for $6 million due to the contractors’ removal of six trees, which were said to be trees from colonial times.

  • Memorandum from Nathan Leventhal from Commissioners Ameruso, Davis, and Steisel, January 17, 1983, City of New York, Office of the Mayor.Leventhal Memorandum: There are parts of the parkway that neither Parks nor NYCDOT is required to clean or maintain. For example, regarding NYCDOT, the memorandum states:

    “ The Department of Transportation shall clean those properties regardless of surface, on or along arterial highways (excluding those portions which run through parks which are deemed not to be the responsibility of the Department of    Transportation) including those which are part of exits and entrances to an arterial highway, extending outward from the roadway until they reach: a) a fence or other barrier designed to limit access to the main road; b) the curb of a City street, service road, or other roadway which is not an arterial highway; or c) a cliff or steep embankment which restricts passage beyond that point.”


A 75-foot-high stone retaining wall (built in 1908) collapsed in a roaring avalanche onto the Parkway just north of the George Washington Bridge at 183rd Street in Washington Heights.

“About 250 residents of 1380 Riverside Drive were evacuated after cracks were found in the facade, but officials said the building was safe and all residents but those in north-facing apartments were allowed to return shortly before midnight. A spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management said the Red Cross provided shelter for four families.”


Boyer, Christine. Dreaming the Rational City. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. 1983. p. 39

“A generation before Robert Moses built the Henry Hudson Parkway, reformers were promoting parks and parkways as critical moral forces that would produce “a desire for beauty and order, spreading a benign, tranquilizing influence over their surroundings.”

Newton, Norman. Design on the Land:  The development of Landscape Architecture, 1971



“As linear park systems, parkways can do much to encourage use of non- motorized transportation and mass transit. The Henry Hudson Parkway Task Force has received a grant from the New York City Environmental Fund to study the feasibility of a bike and pedestrian trail along the parkway in the Bronx.”


“Parklands provided Moses with the “bank” of undeveloped spaces in the city in which to build highways. At the time, parks and edge pieces of land had few champions who would slow his progress. While wearing the hats of many agencies, Moses was also able to avoid the jurisdictional entanglements that may have created bureaucratic snags. He was equally adept at financing projects, raising money for the Henry Hudson Parkway through a combination of federal funds to link the West Side Highway to the George Washington Bridge, funds for   creating a “park access road” for Riverside Park, additional money saved by building through the existing Fort Tryon Park (eliminating right-of-way expenses), raising revenue bonds from expected tolls at the Henry Hudson Bridge,  and funds from selling the excavated fill.”


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